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Cyberbullying During The COVID-19

January 2, 2021

Cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly threatens, harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person (on purpose) online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices. It’s a growing epidemic that is leading to increased depression and suicide in our youth. By understanding what it is and how to prevent it, society can bring an end to online bullying and give our children a chance to live the lives they deserve.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increase in kids and teens using digital platforms. And it’s not just their personal use, they’re using digital platforms for educational purposes.

With the increased usage of smart phones and social media, students who are prone to bullying are likely to cyberbully.

And now we have students being educated online through various sites such as Zoom, Web-Ex, Google Classroom assignments, Moodle, Minecraft for homeschooling and Microsoft Office 365 Home Schooling pilot program.

Zoom has already come under fire for the recent disruption of strangers who have hacked online business meetings with hateful and inappropriate comments. If Zoom is that easy to hack into, it’s likely to expect kids and teens trying to follow suit.

The New York City DOE has received various reports documenting issues that impact the security and privacy of the Zoom platform. Based on their review of these documented concerns, the DOE will no longer permit the use of Zoom.

While cyberbullying is a great concern, kids who can’t sleep, or who have completed their home studying may find additional screen time attractive and if the opportunity presents itself, cyberbullying can become one of their activities.

According to the American Adolescent Psychiatric Association, “stress and mental health conditions may be exacerbated by cyberbullying, particularly among those who have experienced emotional abuse.’ 

It all makes sense with a limitless amount of targets and child and teen bullies online. And with so many parents stressed out having to now teach their kids in the homeschooling arena, parents may be exhausted and not paying attention to what their kids are doing online during non-school hours.

Although cyberbullying has been around for a long time, we’re living in unprecedented times and when kids are stressed out and bored the opportunity to cyberbully is present.

When kids are pulled out of the classroom and mandated social distancing, they will be in front of digital devices even more than they’ve ever been. This gives them even more access to digital devices.

  • Among high school students, 15.5% are cyberbullied and 20.2% are bullied on school property Center for Disease Control, 2017.
  • The percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have nearly doubled (18% to 34%) from 2007-2016 Patchin & Hinduja, 2016.

Bullying Warning Signs

  • A decline in grades 
  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Depression 
  • A change in eating habits and sleep patterns
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
  • Increased physical complaints (headaches, stomach upset, etc)
  • School avoidance (When kids are in the classroom, 5.4 million students want to stay home every day or fear of being bullied.)
  • Kids and teens experience self-destructive behaviours such as running away from home, self-harm or talking about suicide.

What Parents and Educators Can Do

  • Kids should be taught that if they wouldn't say something to someone's face, they shouldn't say it to them online, through texting, or posting in any other way.
  • Digital Harassment is the perfect way for online aggressors to remain anonymous. Being anonymous, there is no fear of punishment because they don't have to come face to face with their victim(s.)
  • The very first thing parents must do is learn the Internet. In other words …Speak the lingo and know the game!!
    If you don’t how will you help your children? If you do not work on a computer and the Internet regularly, there are libraries, schools, YMCAs and neighbourhood associations who offer this instruction.
  • The second thing you must do is to communicate with your kids and teens. Let them know that it’s okay to come to you if they are being cyberbullied. Encourage them to tell you immediately if they are being digitally harassed, cyberbullied, cyberstalked or if they’ve been approached by a predator. Tell them you won’t be angry about anything. You just want to help them.
  • During this unprecedented time where kids are spending their days online, educators keep close tabs on all online interactions and encourage students to send you screenshots or screen recordings of any rule violations they see to help you investigate and facilitate takedowns of problematic or abusive content.
  • Be sure to keep your home computer(s) out in the open, such as a family room or kitchen.
  • Encourage your child to alert you if they are aware of others who may be the victims of similar behaviour.
  • Explain that cyberbullying is harmful and unacceptable. Discuss appropriate online behaviour and make it clear that there will be consequences for inappropriate behaviour.
  • Although it’s important to install parental control filtering software, it’s just as important for you to monitor your child’s computer. You want to respect your children’s privacy yet, your child’s safety may override these privacy concerns. Tell your child that you are not spying on them but you may review their online communications if you think there is a reason for concern.

How SPYERA Can Help?

Cyberbullying is a real issue in today’s society and one that truly affects our children and teens – and in many cases adults too! It’s our duty to protect our children and sometimes that means toeing the line between parent and friend. Knowing the signs of cyberbullying gives us the upper hand and in a truly vicious battle that is sadly taking the lives of many of our youth – far before their time. Don’t be afraid to intervene. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And don’t be afraid to get some extra help when your son or daughter just won’t open up.

Kids and teens don’t always want to talk and parents oftentimes don’t want to overstep their boundaries — because who wants a grumpy teen, right? So, let tools like SPYERA parental control software be an added layer of security for those times when you want to know, but you don’t know how to ask. Check-in from time to time — maybe you’ll be happily surprised that nothing is going on. Or maybe you’ll be able to step in before it’s too late.

Cyberbullying can be traumatizing and embarrassing, so be gentle with your children when bringing it up. Tools like SPYERA make it easy for your to see exactly your child is talking to, what they are discussing and if you need to take action to protect him or her from the dangers of suicide or online abuse.

Parents, we get it — you don’t want your kids to hate you for checking up on their social media or texting habits. And you don’t want them to shut you out because you’re prying. However, you also don’t want to wake up one morning — and every morning thereafter — to find your son or daughter has died by suicide knowing you could have prevented it. So why not let parental control software walk that fine line between invading your child’s privacy and saving their life.

Get SPYERA — the world’s most powerful monitoring software — HERE.

We are here to help, 24/7 in fact, so don’t be afraid to contact us and bring peace of mind to your family. We understand that the digital age is hard. So, let us do the hard stuff.

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